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Apple iPad (2019) Review: Basic gets them (iPad) Pro feels

Now with Smart Keyboard and Pencil support, and still a great price

by: - Last updated on: February 10th, 2020

When it comes to tablets, the joke in tech circles is that the consumer has a number of options. They can choose between an iPad. And another iPad. And another iPad. And so on. Well, now Apple has added a new iPad to the series, an upgrade to the base model, which started the whole tablet revolution way back in 2010. It remains the most affordable new iPad out there but is also the least powerful one on paper. So, who should for it?

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iPad (2019) Review: Moving on from mere media consumption

Remember how they called Harry Potter “the boy who lived,” because he, against all odds, survived the onslaught of an evil wizard (He Who Must Not Be Named, so we won’t use the V-word for Voldemort)? Well, replace “boy” with “tablet” and you could well be describing the iPad. After a spectacular start in 2011, many felt that the “tablet revolution” had fizzled out by around 2015. However, the evidence seems to suggest that at least one tablet is still in fine health. And rather appropriately, it is the one that got people all excited about tablets in the first place.

The iPad.

Even as other brands slipped in the tablet quicksand, the iPad somehow seemed to just go on and on. And thanks to the introduction of new models – the Pro and the Air most notably – the tablet is showing signs of becoming even more popular. What, however, is notable that in recent editions, like the Air and the Mini, the iPad has been taking baby steps towards becoming a notebook alternative of sorts – the Air got support for the Apple Pencil and the Smart Keyboard, while the Mini got Apple Pencil support. In short, the tablet has been showing signs of moving from its “media consuming device” beginnings to become a more productive tool.

The iPad (2019) continues this trend.

iPad (2019) Design: Looks familiar, very familiar

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On the surface (no pun intended, Microsoft) might not look too different from its predecessor – the 2018 iPad. It still is all display on the front, with relatively large bezels for a product released in 2019, and still retains the round home button that was the hallmark of all iOS devices before Face ID made its appearance. The back is similar too – flat mainly but tapering at the edges, very unlike the designs of the new Pro and Air devices.

The innards are largely similar too – the Retina display in front, the A10 Fusion processor inside, the Touch ID in the home button, the 8-megapixel rear camera, the 1.2-megapixel front-facing selfie/FaceTime camera, the lightning port on the base flanked by two speaker grilles, the 3.5 mm audio jack at the top, support for Apple Pencil (1st generation), the 32 GB and 128 GB non-expandable storage options, the same 10-hour battery life, and running on top of it all iOS 13 (iPad 2018 has received the upgrade).

You would be forgiven for thinking this is basically the older iPad until you take a closer look.

iPad (2019): Changes beneath – and on – that surface

The closer look will show you that the display is now a little larger – 10.2 inches as compared to the 9.7-inch one in the 2018 edition. It remains a Retina display but has a slightly higher resolution (2160 x 1620 as compared to 2048 x 1536). You will also notice that the new iPad is just a little longer and wider than its predecessor and at 483 grams, about 14 grams heavier. And while the positioning of the ports and volume buttons remains the same, there is now a new feature on the left side – a smart connector.

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Indeed that port is the key to the biggest change in the new iPad. It now comes with support for Apple’s Smart Keyboard Cover, which is the reason for the slightly larger display – the new iPad can work with a Smart Keyboard Cover of the 10.5 inch iPad Pro or the new iPad Air, as it has roughly similar proportions.

iPad (2019) Productivity: Now works even more for work

The keyboard cover option adds a bit of productivity weight to what was already a very good tablet. Of course, it can also be paired over Bluetooth with any Bluetooth keyboard (a course of action we recommend, given the pricing of the Smart Keyboard Cover). Like its largely similar-specced predecessor, the iPad 2019 is a very good performer. The slightly bigger display might not seem to make much of a difference initially but does improve the split-screen experience, and well, you do end up having a slightly larger on-screen keyboard, which is never bad.

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The display is not in the league of the iPad Pro series but is bright and excellent for viewing videos and playing games. Speaking of games, once again, as long as you are not looking for a super high-end experience, you will not be disappointed – the iPad is able to handle pretty much everything you throw at it, though you will witness a few frame drops and lags as you move up the settings ladder in PUBG and Call of Duty. The games are never unplayable – the stereo speakers deliver an excellent performance – but yes, if you have used devices more recent Apple and Qualcomm chips (the A10 is after all, more than three years old), you will notice a clear change in performance levels. The Apple Pencil works on it exactly like it did on its predecessor. It will not be as smooth as the Pro series but will still be very good! The only sore spot on the device is its cameras – the rear one is decent at best in good light conditions and the one in front is better used for video calls than for selfies.

All said and done, the iPad delivers one of the best touch experiences on a tablet and now can mimic many notebook functions, thanks to iOS 13 and its bevy of productivity features – you can save files in locations, download files, switch between windows in the same app and so on. And while some tasks like handling WordPress remain a bit of a pain on the iPad, others like image and video editing are a whole lot easier than on a notebook. Round that off with that compact form factor and superb battery life (ten hours easily) and you have a very good device for those wanting to work on the move. In our book, it definitely is comparable with the base notebook models sporting Intel Core i3 or Gold processors – we found the new iPad easily outgunning the base model Surface Go, just for the record, although we think Windows 10 had more to do with it than the hardware on the two.

It does come with a connector, but should you pair it with the Smart Keyboard Cover? Well, even though the cover is snazzy and convenient, its Rs 15,000 price tag would take your total expenditure into the range of the better specced iPad Air, which is a better performer, thanks to its markedly superior processor. A simpler solution would be investing about Rs 2,500 in a decent Bluetooth keyboard for those times when you need type more than touch.

iPad (2019) Review Verdict: Still the best tablet in town

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Got an iPad 2018 already? Well, we do not think there is a compelling case to upgrade to this one unless you really want to spend another Rs 15,000 to get the Smart Keyboard Cover (just buy the iPad Air already in which case). That said, at its starting price of Rs 29,900 (for 32 GB and Wi-Fi only), the iPad now is not only the best option for anyone looking for a good tablet experience without spending a bomb but also a terrific choice as a highly mobile computing option. The fact that it adds some features to the older iPad without a major price rise is definitely plus. Almost a decade after its launch, the base iPad still remains priced below Rs 30,000. And considering the level of performance it delivers, that is no mean achievement,

The tablet that lived continues to do so. And is getting Pro shades too.

Never used a tablet before? Start with this one.

Buy Apple iPad (2019) on Amazon.in

Pros
  • Smooth performance
  • Great battery life
  • Supports Smart Keyboard cover and Apple Pencil
Cons
  • Very similar to the iPad 2018
  • Very mediocre cameras
Review Overview
Build & Design
Performance
Gaming & multi-tasking
Software
Price
SUMMARY

It lacks the sheer tech muscle of the iPad Pro range. And does not even have the sort of specs that the Air and Mini do. In fact if anything, the iPad of 2019 seems almost like a clone of its 2018 avatar. The few things that do mark it as different, however, also make it special. As does its price tag.

4.0

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